This is getting fun. I have no idea how long the spiel with Macmillan’s gonna last. It’s of course ridiculous for a Macmillan division like Tor, given its online following, etc., to not be selling most of its ebooks direct — and, no, Cory Doctorow, there’s nothing that says Tor can’t sell Kindle-formatted ebooks DRM-free, using any software out there, or a homebrew solution.
But the bigger concern for Amazon is, while I still don’t think Apple’s iPad is truly intended to sell ebooks (like a lot of men in my neighborhood, I’ll be getting one for my wife to watch her YouTube videos from Taiwan and China on… Korean Soap Operas will sell 50k Ipads in Montgomery County, MD alone) suddenly, ebooks on Ipad will live up to the hype, at least somewhat.
If you remember back to the days when the App Store opened, suddenly, companies like Fictionwise, with its Ereader App, were able to really tap into the growing market. Instead of 10 million or so PDA devices in use, plus the old Gemstar/Rocket eBooks, Fictionwise was now able to sell to more than 50 million Iphone users–with all the great Apple customer demographics (higher-income, better-educated, etc.)!
This five-fold (at least!) increase in available readers, on enhanced screens allowed Fictionwise to go from (ballpark), selling 50,000 ebooks a month, to (their own words), 90,000, at least the first month! Before the hype wound down a bit and downloads decreased! As it has each time, until there was another app update!
Or, in other words, given what Amazon achieves with its Kindle base of hard-core readers, (who pretty much have Amazon’s back in the push to keep ebooks below $10), Fictionwise is selling dick.
The Ereader model–person installs software, then maybe visits Fictionwise, then opens an account via webkit-browser, then buys books, then downloads them, then sorta has them–was a non-starter. Amazon sold more ebooks last Christmas Day than Peanut Press/PalmReader/Ereader sold in its history.You could repeat the above scenario for any of the other competing ebook apps–Kobo or what have you. Or, indeed, any of the other “retailers” that have been floating around since Kindle. They never lived up to the hype, and the sales of epub books with DRM from Overdrive+Adobe, etc. are absolutely pathetic in comparison, statistically no different from the sales of epub books with DRM from DNAML, or the sales of epub books with not-entirely-compatible DRM from Barnes & Noble.
At least with a direct channel, Apple will leverage its existing customer base. This isn’t the unicorn, but, finally, though Apple isn’t really doing the enhanced editions thing, nor seems to be going full-blast on ebooks the way they are with videos and games, in sales of epub books with Apple DRM, directly through Apple’s channels, to Apple’s customer base, Amazon has something to worry about, at least for best-sellers.
Only two months away.